The Associated Press
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a deep ball bounced off his hands, KJ Hamler pulled Sean Clifford aside and told his quarterback he owed him one.
It didn’t take long for Hamler to make it up to him.
The speedy wideout burned the Michigan secondary two quarters later and hauled in a perfectly thrown 53-yard touchdown pass to help propel No. 7 Penn State to a 28-21 win over No. 16 Michigan on Saturday.
Clifford wasn’t surprised to see the nearest Michigan defender nearly 10 yards behind Hamler, who finished with six catches for 108 yards.
“I know KJ’s fast enough to get to that weakness in their defense every single time,” Clifford said.
And the first-year starter is getting better at finding him down the field.
Clifford hit Hamler on a 25-yard pass to start the scoring, hooked up with tight end Pat Freiermuth for a 17-yard touchdown and ran for a 1-yard score to pace Penn State’s offense.
The Wolverines battled back from a 21-7 halftime deficit and with just over two minutes to play, had a chance to tie the game on fourth-and-goal from Penn State’s 3. But Michigan wideout Ronnie Bell dropped a potential tying touchdown with Penn State safety Lamont Wade playing tight coverage.
“That stop was huge,” Penn State coach James Franklin said.
DETROIT (AP) — Kirk Cousins matched a career high with four touchdown passes, leading the surging Minnesota Vikings to a 42-30 win over the slumping Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Vikings (5-2) have won three consecutive games in part because their quarterback is making plays to complement one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Matthew Stafford also threw four touchdown passes, all to Marvin Jones, and became the fastest to reach 40,000 yards passing in NFL history. And Jones became the first Lions player in the Super Bowl era with four receiving TDs in a game.
The Lions (2-3-1) dropped their third straight game after a 2-0-1 start and they probably can’t complain too much about officiating in their latest setback. The Lions had some critical penalty calls go against them in a 23-22 loss to Green Bay on Monday night.
Detroit’s defense simply couldn’t get Cousins off the field on Sunday.
Cousins was 24 of 34 for a season-high 337 yards and four TDs without an interception. He led the Vikings on four straight TD drives starting in the first quarter and ending in the third, going ahead for the first time on a 5-yard pass to C.J. Ham to make it 28-21.
By TRAVIS JOHNSON
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Sean Clifford looks forward to watching himself on tape more and more each week.
It is one of the perks of being Penn State’s starting quarterback. It is also part of the burden.
“I think each week you’ve got to find something to critique yourself about,” Clifford said.
Clifford knows he must improve if the No. 7 Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) want to keep their winning streak going today against No. 16 Michigan (5-1, 3-1) and stay in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.
Until last week against Iowa, the first-year starter had looked unflappable. Clifford is completing 64% of his passes and has thrown 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His running ability has been on display, too. Clifford leads the team with 59 carries and is second with 252 rushing yards.
But in Iowa City, Clifford ran into some trouble during the primetime showdown with the Hawkeyes. It was the first time Clifford failed to throw for at least 200 yards, but Penn State won 17-12.
That could prove tougher against the Wolverines.
Michigan has the nation’s 14th-ranked defense that is ninth against the pass. Michigan has 16 sacks among its 31 tackles for loss over the last three games.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson said. “He’s got good accuracy. He’s got good scrambling ability. You can tell that he trusts the players around him. He gives his receivers chances to go up and get the ball and they’ve got good receivers to do that for them.”
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — James Neal and Ethan Bear scored, Mikko Koskinen made 25 saves and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Friday night to regain sole possession of the overall NHL lead.
Darnell Nurse had two assists to help the Oilers improve to 7-1-0. Mike Green scored for Detroit. Coming off a 5-1 loss at Calgary on Thursday night, the Red Wings have lost four in a row to drop to 3-5-0.
Neal scored eight minutes into the second period when a long rebound came out to him for his NHL-leading ninth goal of the season. Neal has already surpassed the seven goals he had last season with the Calgary Flames.
Bear scored his second goal in two games, connecting on a point shot 4 minutes after Neal’s goal.
Green scored late in the second.
NOTES: Oilers general manager Ken Holland faced his longtime former team for the first time since being hired by Edmonton on May 7. … The Oilers wore their new third jerseys for the first time.
Red Wings: Host Vancouver on Tuesday night.
Oilers: At Winnipeg on Sunday.
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions are thankful they have a short week to prepare to play Minnesota in a possibly pivotal NFC North matchup.
A quick turnaround gave the Lions less time to lament critical calls that didn’t go their way on Monday night in a loss at Green Bay.
“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise because we don’t have time to think about anything but Minnesota,” Lions center Frank Ragnow said. “And, the Vikings are really good — especially on defense.”
The Vikings (4-2) have won two in a row, leaning on one of the NFL’s best defenses and an offense that is starting to perform up to its potential.
Minnesota has averaged 33 points the past two weeks with a grinding running game led by Dalvin Cook that helps Kirk Cousins make big plays through the air. After a slow start, Cousins had six touchdown passes and one interception in wins over Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
“That team is on fire right now,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
Detroit (2-2-1) has dropped two straight after an unbeaten, three-game start because it failed to keep double-digit leads against the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
“You can’t let it stick around in your head because there’s a long season left,” said Trey Flowers, who was called for a pair of apparently phantom illegal use of the hands calls Monday.
If the Lions don’t win Sunday at home, though, their chances to contend in the competitive division will take a hit.
Minnesota, meanwhile, wants to avoid starting 0-3 in the NFC North after playing its first three division games as visitors.
“We get them all at home at the end, so it all evens out,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter leads the league with eight tackles for losses. He set an NFL record with a sack against the Eagles that gave him 46 for his career, the most in history by a player younger than 25.
Hunter has two more games before his birthday, and the Lions have provided him plenty of pass-rushing opportunities in the past. Hunter has seven sacks in six games against them, plus three fumble recoveries and one he returned for a 32-yard touchdown.
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Sam Bennett, Derek Ryan and Mark Giordano scored in a 5:18 span of the third period to break open a close game in the Calgary Flames’ 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Bennett gave Calgary a 3-1 lead at 3:29, Ryan connected at 4:57 and Giordano added a power-play goal at 8:47. Andrew Mangiapane and Elias Lindholm also scored and David Rittich made 27 saves.
Darren Helm scored for Detroit. The Red Wings have lost three in a row to fall to 3-4-0.
Mangiapane scored midway through the first period and Lindholm made it 2-0 on a power play halfway through the second. Helm struck 28 seconds later for Detroit.
Jimmy Howard made 31 saves for the Red Wings.
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — When asked if anything about his new job has surprised him, Michigan coach Juwan Howard mentioned recruiting.
“I knew you have to recruit, but all the work that comes behind the recruiting. Like I haven’t talked on the phone in years. What we all do now is just text, right? Or email,” Howard said. “I’ve been on the phone sometimes with recruits for like 30 minutes. … You’ve got to do a really good job with your text game, too. A lot of kids like to text.”
Michigan held its men’s basketball media day Thursday, another first for Howard as he prepares for his initial season at the helm. The former Fab Five star returned to his school after coach John Beilein left for the NBA this offseason.
Hours after his media day news conference, Howard had a recruiting victory when Isaiah Todd of Word of God Christian Academy in North Carolina chose Michigan in an announcement streamed on WRAL.com. Todd is ranked 12th overall among 2020 recruits at 247sports.com.
Howard has big shoes to fill after Beilein led Michigan to two Final Fours and returned the school to relevance both in the Big Ten and nationally.
“I don’t expect my players to trust me. I want to earn their trust,” Howard said. “I want them to know that I’m in their corner 110%, and that has to be proven by my actions, not just my words.”
The Wolverines have to replace some key players from last season’s Sweet 16 team. Iggy Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews all left early for the NBA draft.
Returning are point guard and defensive standout Zavier Simpson, 7-foot-1 Jon Teske and forward Isaiah Livers. Howard says the team is currently healthy.
Howard also welcomes freshman Franz Wagner of Berlin, the brother of former Michigan star Moe Wagner.
As Howard noted, recruiting is a big part of his job — and it will likely play a significant role in his success or failure. Under Beilein, Michigan wasn’t necessarily beating out Kentucky and Duke for the top-ranked high school prospects, but the coaching staff excelled at identifying talent and developing players.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Andre Drummond and Markieff Morris each scored 17 points as the Detroit Pistons held off the Charlotte Hornets 116-110 in an NBA preseason game on Wednesday.
Drummond also had 15 rebounds, and Langston Galloway scored a team-high 18 points, with five 3-pointers, off the bench.
Tim Frazier added 15 points and 12 assists for Detroit (3-2), which was without Blake Griffin. Drummond had 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half as the Pistons led 61-58.
Malik Monk led Charlotte (2-3) with 18 points and seven assists. Cody Zeller was one of four Hornets with 12 points.
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — In a league with so many teams either contending or rebuilding, the Detroit Pistons haven’t been doing much of either.
What they did do last season was make a playoff appearance, a rarity in recent years. Now the challenge is to build on that.
“Not saying we’re ready for a championship, but we’re taking some big steps,” coach Dwane Casey said. “This is a bridge. We’re going across it, to continue to improve offensively, defensively, to get to our ultimate goal, which is to win a championship.”
The Pistons have resisted the win big-or-tank model that seems to be all the rage in the NBA. Two seasons ago, they gave up a first-round draft pick in a trade for Blake Griffin. That wasn’t enough to put them in the playoffs in 2018, but they made it a season ago and were immediately swept by Milwaukee.
There’s still a clear gap between Detroit and the top teams in the league, but there’s also enough talent on hand that the Pistons could rise a bit in the Eastern Conference.
Last season was only the second playoff appearance in 10 seasons for this franchise. Winning a round would be another step forward.
“We’re not here just to get by, or just to get into the playoffs,” said Casey, who is entering his second season at the helm.
With Griffin and center Andre Drummond under big contracts, the Pistons haven’t had much roster flexibility and Detroit hasn’t been a prime destination for free agents.
By KEITH JENKINS
AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. — It took Mason Crosby 13 seasons to perform his first Lambeau Leap.
The 35-year-old kicker nailed a 23-yard field goal as time expired and jumped into the crowd with a boost from long snapper Hunter Bradley after he finished off a rally for the Green Bay Packers, who benefited from some questionable officiating to edge the Detroit Lions 23-22 on Monday night.
“That was fun, yeah,” Crosby said of leaping into the crowd. “That feeling, once you get up in the stands, the energy in there and teammates and everyone’s around, that’s something I’ll always remember. That was great.”
Aaron Rodgers, in his second straight game without top target Davante Adams, completed 24 of 39 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful 35-yard throw to Allen Lazard for the second-year pro’s first career score.
“I actually sit next to him in the team meetings,” Rodgers said of Lazard, who was cut by the Packers in August and then signed to the practice squad to start the season. “We’ve struck up a pretty good friendship.”
Rodgers linked up with Jamaal Williams for the other TD. Williams finished with 104 yards on 14 carries and four catches for 32 yards for Green Bay (5-1), which won for the first time in five tries versus its NFC North rival.
The Packers, who are off to their first 3-0 start in the NFC North since 2012, might not have pulled it off if not for two fourth-quarter penalties for illegal hands to the face against Detroit’s Trey Flowers, both on third down. The first set up Lazard’s touchdown, and the second allowed Green Bay to run the clock down to 2 seconds before Crosby’s game-winner. In both cases, replays showed Flowers’ hands on the neck or shoulder — not the face — of a Packers lineman.
“I actually changed the position of my hand, because it was to the chest initially,” Flowers said. “I was doing it all game. I didn’t know that was a flag to the chest, so I changed it. And he called it again.
“I didn’t think hands to the chest was a penalty. I thought hands to the face, but I had him right here in the chest. The second time I changed it. … That’s part of a move that I do. So, nah, I don’t think that was a penalty.”
Referee Clete Blakeman said each of the calls was made by umpire Jeff Rice, and he discussed the last one with him.
“Basically, it’s for illegal use of the hands, hands-to-the-face foul,” Blakeman told a pool reporter. “To be a foul, we basically need some forceful contact that’s prolonged to the head and neck area of the defender.
“So, in his mind he had pinned him back, it was prolonged, and that’s what created the foul.”
Matt Prater was good from 26, 22, 41, 51 and 54 yards for the Lions (2-2-1), who fell to 0-2 under Matt Patricia on Monday night. Detroit lost its last Monday night game to the Jets 48-17 last year.
“We got to find a way to finish,” said Kenny Golladay, who had 121 yards on five catches for Detroit. “That’s a big part of it right now. Find a way to finish. We left a lot of points out there.”
Matthew Stafford finished 18 of 32 for 265 yards and was sacked three times.
Kerryon Johnson scored the lone touchdown for the Lions from 1 yard out in the first quarter.